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Nigerians Disappointed by Opening Loss


Millions of football-loving Nigerians are disappointed at being the first African side to lose a match in this World Cup, falling to Argentina Sunday 1-0. Musa Ubale has more from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Bottles of Coke and larger beer could not help a group of Nigerian football fans in the Abuja suburb of Karu absorb the shock of a tense match between the Super Eagles and two-time-champion Argentina.

Streets in Abuja were empty, with people at home or at neighborhood bars watching their Super Eagles with hopes that the national side might re-enact its success at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where they beat Argentina for the Gold Medal.

But it was not to be Sunday in Johannesburg, with a header by Gabriel Heinze sending Nigeria to defeat as the first African side to lose in the continent's first World Cup.

The loss puts Nigeria at the bottom of Group B alongside Greece. But Nathanial Ajan says he was encouraged by the team's performance against the highly-rated Argentinians.

"We can now see that our problem was the coach," said Ajan. "Because these are the same set of people who have been playing before. But today we have seen the difference that there is serious improvement in our players. So they played very, very well."

Pastor Peter Bisong says Swedish coach Lars Largerback has made a big difference.

"Yeah you can see we have been clamoring for a foreign coach. And from the performance there is nothing bad when you are playing well and you are losing," said Bisong. "What we have been seeing before is we have been playing badly and loosing badly. You can see from the defense, the defense is OK. And the midfield is OK. We lack a little bite in the attack it would have been 1-1. So For me I am not looking at the loss I am looking at the overall performance of the group. And I think if we continue like this we will make it out of the group to the next round."

Nigeria next plays Greece on Thursday. Richard Oladeru thinks that game will go much better for the Super Eagles.

"We have a chance because going by what we first saw we proved all the fans wrong and we believe that the next match against Greece we are going to dominate and we are going to win and subsequently the last match against South Korea we will also win," said Oladeru.

Femi Oladele is also encouraged by Nigeria's chances in this tournament.

"Very well we have hoped this match in fact we played Argentina with their game we play them well, but because of the experience and some other things. Their goal was just a luck goal because it wasn't easy for them at all," said Oladele. "We have a very good chance of qualifying to the next round."

Nigeria completes its first round play against South Korea June 22.

Millions of football-loving Nigerians are disappointed at being the first African side to lose a match in this World Cup, falling to Argentina Sunday 1-0. Musa Ubale has more from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Bottles of Coke and larger beer could not help a group of Nigerian football fans in the Abuja suburb of Karu absorb the shock of a tense match between the Super Eagles and two-time-champion Argentina.

Streets in Abuja were empty, with people at home or at neighborhood bars watching their Super Eagles with hopes that the national side might re-enact its success at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where they beat Argentina for the Gold Medal.

But it was not to be Sunday in Johannesburg, with a header by Gabriel Heinze sending Nigeria to defeat as the first African side to lose in the continent's first World Cup.

The loss puts Nigeria at the bottom of Group B alongside Greece. But Nathanial Ajan says he was encouraged by the team's performance against the highly-rated Argentinians.

"We can now see that our problem was the coach," said Ajan. "Because these are the same set of people who have been playing before. But today we have seen the difference that there is serious improvement in our players. So they played very, very well."

Pastor Peter Bisong says Swedish coach Lars Largerback has made a big difference.

"Yeah you can see we have been clamoring for a foreign coach. And from the performance there is nothing bad when you are playing well and you are losing," said Bisong. "What we have been seeing before is we have been playing badly and loosing badly. You can see from the defense, the defense is OK. And the midfield is OK. We lack a little bite in the attack it would have been 1-1. So For me I am not looking at the loss I am looking at the overall performance of the group. And I think if we continue like this we will make it out of the group to the next round."

Nigeria next plays Greece on Thursday. Richard Oladeru thinks that game will go much better for the Super Eagles.

"We have a chance because going by what we first saw we proved all the fans wrong and we believe that the next match against Greece we are going to dominate and we are going to win and subsequently the last match against South Korea we will also win," said Oladeru.

Femi Oladele is also encouraged by Nigeria's chances in this tournament.

"Very well we have hoped this match in fact we played Argentina with their game we play them well, but because of the experience and some other things. Their goal was just a luck goal because it wasn't easy for them at all," said Oladele. "We have a very good chance of qualifying to the next round."

Nigeria completes its first round play against South Korea June 22.

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